Kansas State Wildcats

BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Wide receiver Melquise Stovall #1 of the California Golden Bears scores a touchdown against the Texas Longhorns in the first half on September 17, 2016 at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California.  Cal won 50-43.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
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Poll numbers confirm a nightmarish start for the Big 12

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There was a never-before-seen oddity in today’s AP poll, though you are forgiven if it slipped by you unnoticed.

Just three Big 12 teams dotted the poll: No. 16 Baylor, No. 21 Texas and No. 25 Oklahoma. Which means, for the first time in the league’s 21-year history, not a single Big 12 team qualified for the AP’s top 15.

Saturday’s twin losses by Oklahoma (to Ohio State) and Texas (to Cal) likely doomed the Big 12 to its second CFP-free postseason in just the third year of the system.

Eliminating leagues entirely this early in the season is asking for trouble — recall what you thought of Ohio State’s title chances after that home loss to Virginia Tech in September of ’14 — but the Big 12’s seem safe considering the conference has accomplished next to nothing in non-conference play. Texas’s win over Notre Dame has aged like a forgotten cup of milk, and the league’s second-best win is… Oklahoma State over Pittsburgh? West Virginia over Missouri?

The most memorable moment of September has been Oklahoma State’s unjust loss to Central Michigan. (Which, oddly, has kept the Pokes out of the rankings even after Saturday’s win over Pittsburgh.)

Overall, the Big 12 is 3-10 against the Power 5, the American and the MAC and 16-12 against the rest of college football. That includes the FCS.

An empty non-conference season is bad enough, but it builds into the league’s inherent problem: its 9-game, round-robin schedule without a championship game was built for the bowl-and-poll era, not the Playoff. Heading into its sixth season of existence, no team has run through the 9-game gauntlet unbeaten.

With no title game to serve as a punctuator and no good non-conference wins to look back upon, the Big 12 champion — whoever it is — may have a tough time arguing for one of the final four spots.

Stanford beats Kansas State behind Christian McCaffrey, stingy defense

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Christian McCaffrey #5 of the Stanford Cardinal runs with the ball against the Kansas State Wildcats at Stanford Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Christian McCaffrey‘s second Heisman campaign is off to a much better start than his first. Especially on the final scoreboard.

The tailback racked up 210 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns as Stanford held off Kansas State 26-13 in the season opener for both teams. The Cardinal had no need to blame their body clocks for the effort but head coach David Shaw has plenty to work on after a lackluster showing in the second half gave the Wildcats a chance to claw back into the game.

Quarterback Ryan Burns finished 14-of-18 for 156 yards and a touchdown in his first start. The redshirt junior looked impressive early on in replacing school record holder Kevin Hogan and completed every pass up until halfway through the 3rd quarter. As Shaw promised, backup Keller Chyrst rotated in during the second quarter to lead a scoring drive but didn’t play much the rest of game as the offense struggled in the second half.

Luckily the Cardinal’s defense, replacing a number of key starters from last season, kept a pesky KSU offense in check most of the night. Dallas Lloyd and Quenton Meeks both recorded interceptions and the team racked up eight sacks on the night.

Kansas State failed to get much of a running game going beyond quarterback scrambles and failed to score in the red zone several times in the second half. Starting QB Jesse Ertz was generally ineffective in his first game back since injuring his knee in the opener last season but did finish the game with 207 yards passing, a score and an interception.

Ertz was downed for a safety with just over four minutes to go in the game that appeared to all but end any hopes of a win. But veteran head coach Bill Snyder had a trick up his sleeve and the team recovered an onside free kick on the ensuing play. KSU promptly marched 66 yards for a touchdown on a great throw by Ertz to freshman Isaiah Zuber to cut the lead to six.

But it was once again McCaffrey to the rescue for the Cardinal. Helped by a vicious block, the Heisman favorite ran 41 yards untouched to the end zone for the final points of the night to ice the victory for the Pac-12 favorites.

Stanford will be off next week before hosting USC in a rematch of the league title game from last year. Kansas State will play Florida Atlantic in their home opener in two weeks.

Christian McCaffrey, Stanford up 17-3 on Kansas State at halftime

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Ryan Burns #17 of the Stanford Cardinal warms up before their game against the Kansas State Wildcats at Stanford Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The Christian McCaffrey Show has returned for another season and it appears the 2016 premiere is picking up right where it left off.

The Heisman Trophy favorite once again dazzled in his first action of the season, leading Stanford to a 17-3 halftime lead over Kansas State in the opener for both teams. McCaffrey did just a bit of everything on his way to 136 all-purpose yards and a touchdown before heading to the locker room.

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Cardinal quarterback Ryan Burns began the game 6-of-6 for 109 yards and a touchdown pass before he was replaced by backup Keller Chryst. Head coach David Shaw said he would play both signal-callers as part of an ongoing QB battle and did just that by rotating in Chryst in the middle of the 2nd quarter for one series.

Kansas State quarterback Jesse Ertz looked a bit unsettled in his first start since injuring his knee on the first snap of last season but made several plays right before halftime during the Wildcats only scoring drive. Bill Snyder’s defense did show flashes of potential early in the first quarter but couldn’t contain McCaffrey and Burns enough on third down to keep the score closer.

Alamo Bowl inks extensions with Big 12, Pac-12 through 2025

TCU quarterback Bram Kohlhausen (6) runs for a touchdown against Oregon during the third overtime of the Alamo Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in San Antonio. TCU won 47-41 in triple overtime.(AP Photo/Austin Gay)
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The Valero Alamo Bowl will keep its current configuration through the 2025 season.

The Big 12 and Pac-12 each announced separate deals to remain with the San Antonio-based bowl game through the next decade. Technically, it’s a six-year extension that kicks begins in 2019.

“The Conference’s long-standing relationship with the Valero Alamo Bowl has produced some unforgettable games,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby in a statement. “The Valero Alamo Bowl and San Antonio have been terrific hosts for our member institutions and their fans, and we are excited to join the Pac-12 to continue our relationship through 2025.”

“The Valero Alamo Bowl has a well-deserved reputation for exciting games played in front of sellout crowds and top TV viewership,” added Pac-12 commish Larry Scott. “Our universities and their fans look forward to their trips to San Antonio and playing top ranked schools from the Big 12 Conference.”

As part of the deal, each team will continue sending its top teams that do not reach a New Year’s Six game.

The announcement came in conjunction with the Alamo Bowl’s annual Pigskin Preview.

The Big 12 has sent teams to the Alamo Bowl continuously since 1994, meaning the new agreement takes the bowl and the league into their third decade together. The league is 11-11 to date in the Alamo Bowl, but 8-3 since 2005 and 4-2 since the Pac-12 rejoined the game in 2010. The Pac-12 won each of the first two Alamo Bowls.

TCU won the most recent edition, rallying from a 31-0 halftime deficit to top Oregon 47-41 in triple overtime.

The 2016 game (the second one) will be played Thursday, Dec. 29 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Big 12 informs East Carolina it’s no longer an expansion candidate

GREENVILLE, NC - SEPTEMBER 05:  Head coach Skip Holtz of the East Carolina Pirates walks onto the field with his team before their game against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Greenville, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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We don’t know yet which schools the Big 12 will add in its latest round of expansion.  We do know, though, one who won’t be added.

In a press release, and in a move that will surprise almost no one outside of the university, East Carolina confirmed that the Big 12 has informed them that they are no longer being considered as a candidate for expansion.  It had previously been reported that ECU was one of 20 Group of Five schools that contacted the conference about becoming a member.

The Big 12’s decision on ECU comes a couple of weeks after the current American Athletic Conference member conducted a video conference with commissioner Bob Bowlsby to make its pitch for membership.

“I am proud of the support Pirate Nation provided to our efforts,” ECU president Dr. Cecil Stanton said in a statement. “While I am disappointed by the decision, I remain undaunted in my commitment to ECU athletics and the excellence displayed by our wonderful student-athletes, coaches and staff.”

“While it is obviously not the decision we were hoping for, I am confident ECU put forth its best effort during this process,” a statement from the school’s athletic director, Jeff Compher, began. “Through a determined approach we were able to tell our story to not only the Big 12, but the entire nation. Our student-athletes, coaches and staff will continue to proudly compete for championships in the American Athletic Conference and we will represent our alumni and community with great resolve. We remain Undaunted!”

Nine other AAC members (Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane, UCF, UConn, USF) are up for consideration by the Big 12.  Schools from Conference USA (Rice), the MAC (Northern Illinois), Mountain West (Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV) and the Sun Belt (Arkansas State), as well as football independent BYU, are considered to be expansion candidates.

It’s believed that some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn will ultimately be part of any expansion.  A report from TMGSports.com surfaced overnight that stated invitations have been sent to those six schools, as well as USF and two other unnamed AAC schools.  Those on the receiving end of the invitations are expected to take part in another round of presentations, after which the conference will settle on their new members.

While the conference is looking at expanding by both two and four teams, it appears the former is the more likely number.  A final decision on both the members and number of members is expected at some point in October.